Category Archives: Volunteers

Posts relevant to volunteers at Girls At Work

GAW Volunteer Maris Wofsy Knew What She Wanted to do When She Retired

“The change in the girls over time and to hear the stories of girls who have gone through the program is really remarkable to see.”

Maris Wofsy attended a fundraiser for Girls at Work three years ago and thought “when I retire, I am going to get involved with that group.” She really cares about the mission of the organization and made it her first priority to get involved when she eventually did retire. She has been a volunteer instructor for the Women’s Build classes, has helped with the summer camp program and most recently taught a Birthday build for 8-10 year old girls.

Maris has stayed involved with Girls at Work for over a year and a half and explains the impact that these classes have on girls and women. She says that often there are women who come to classes and are skeptical about their abilities to use power tools. One time she had a woman who came to a class and said that she had a basement full of power tools and didn’t have the courage to learn how to use them. After taking the class that Maris taught she said she felt confident and said she would now be able to use her tools at home and was excited to build more. Maris reflects on her experience as an instructor, “Women learn confidence, safety and how to work in a logical progressional…after two hours of building you can see them pumped up [about what they built].”

Maris has gained an awareness of the impact that this program has had on the girls in the Manchester area, “seeing the change in the girls over time is really great and the stories of girls who have gone through the program and where it has taken them is really remarkable.” Volunteering with Girls at Work has been a fulfilling experience for Maris and she has gained confidence as an instructor because so many women are looking to her and believing in her ability as a teacher.
“You get so much back…It’s a blast and anybody can get involved.”

Meet Pam Decker GAW Volunteer

“The knowledge and insight to see how other people evolve from the program and myself evolving from the program is monumental”


Pam and her wife were encouraged to get involved with the program by a close friend who said that Girls at Work was made for them. She started out helping before the series of women’s classes were established and was one of the first instructors to come on board. Pam enjoys volunteering with Girls at Work because she really appreciates that the Women’s build program directly contributes to the success of the youth program. She also loves to see the look in peoples faces at the end of a class as they leave feeling accomplished and proud.

Pam grew up around power tools and has always been quite vocal in questioning the status quo and stereotypes of women. Girls at Work has opened Pam’s eyes because not all women have had similar experiences with power tools and some have “expectations that these tools aren’t made for them.” She goes on to say that “society in general has made women passive and now there is a shift that says it’s okay to be powerful and to have your own voice,” and that is what Girls at Work is all about.

Pam encourages women to let go of striving for absolute perfection. “When any woman comes here to build she is learning how to become confident and self-sufficient, if they are quick to point out all the flaws in their work they are devaluing their accomplishments and we strive to find beauty in the process and finished product of every build.”

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering with Girls at Work, Pam says, “do it! No matter what your skill level is, if you want to commit, definitely take the steps to get involved – don’t wait, there is no reason to not get involved now.”

Volunteer Celebration Continues with Mary Crawford

“I have gained knowing some great people and being able to do things that I love. I love working in the shop and I could do this everyday”

Mary Crawford
Mary Crawford has always enjoyed working with power tools and was doing some handy work with a partner for a few years until he was no longer able to work. She was getting bored and was looking for something to do when a friend told her about Girls at Work and said it was right up her alley. She stopped by to meet Elaine and watched her teach a class. Mary ended up staying to help with one of the Women’s Build classes that same day.

Mary is not only a women’s instructor for Girls at Work. She has put in many hours helping to maintain their space by cleaning, organizing, painting, building, etc. as well as participating in events such as DIVA. “I enjoyed working on DIVA night, Mel and I ran one of the rooms and it was really rewarding to see all that we accomplished.” Mary has continued to stay involved because she thinks it is a good cause to support.

Mary encourages people who are interested in getting involved with Girls at Work to go for it. “You will meet really great people and you’ll enjoy working with the girls. I have really enjoyed teaching the Women’s Classes and watching women who have never used power tools finish a project and seeing how proud they are.”

Celebrating GAW Volunteers | Kelly Boyer

“It’s fun for me because I get to talk about tools in a way that I don’t in my own home – And the component of people is the most important piece for me. I love that we get to help women feel strong.”

Kelly Boyer-Volunteer

Kelly grew up using power tools and as a result has gained confidence and strength to tackle challenges throughout her life as well as seek opportunities. Recently, she was elected as one of the youngest Goffstown Select(wo)men and is passionate about helping women find their inner power. She has always been actively engaged in the community and served two years in Americorps programs prior to becoming involved with Girls at Work. She heard about the organization from a good friend who said it would be a perfect fit for Kelly and her wife. Since Kelly has started volunteering with Girls at Work she has been essential in growing the Women’s Build program. She has helped spearhead the introduction of a series of Women’s Build classes that began this past January and is the Lead Instructor for the program.

Kelly didn’t realize the impact that she was going to have on women through teaching. She says, “I can help other women find that power that society tells them they shouldn’t have.” Kelly acknowledges that the classes at Girls at Work are not “normal” because the opportunities for women and girls to build are rare. She reflects on a really cool experience when teaching and someone came up to her after class and said, “I was absolutely terrified of power tools and now i’m not.” Kelly talks about how being apart of Girls at Work is “a good reminder that everyone has different life experiences and approaches things in different ways.”

Kelly offers a bit of advice for those interested in getting involved with Girls at Work. “It’s not about the tools. It’s about the process of using critical thinking skills and what happens internally. You have to do this, this is not a normal experience that women get to have. There is a place for everyone at girls at work and there is no limit to who can be involved.”

GAW Celebrates our Volunteers | Christine Keenan

ChristineKeenan-VolunteerChristine Keenan first heard about Girls at Work when Elaine Hamel (founder and program manager) posted about a women’s build back in November 2014. Christine signed up for the class and learned how to build a garden bench. She took that bench home and danced around it because of how proud she was to have accomplished something she didn’t know she could do. She learned about the mission of Girls at Work and how they support at risk girls and jumped at the idea of getting involved. Over the next couple of years she volunteered helping with classes, building signs, and attended New Hampshire Construction Career days to attract women to the organization.

When prompted about her continued involvement with GAW she said, “How could I possibly say no, when you know it just takes a bit of time to help and have a positive impact on a young girl? I have had similar experiences growing up as some of these girls and I know the importance of how this program helps them.” Christine can see the difference that the organization has on these young girls. She says, “It gives these girls a new way of looking at their world in a positive way because they are put in a position to see positive role models and then they can imagine opportunities for themselves.”

Christine values so many memories and experiences with her time at GAW. She really values the connections that she has made with people from various backgrounds and hearing their stories as well as the mission of the organization. In her time volunteering in the workshop she really enjoys “seeing how it has unfolded and seeing the difference between the first two hours and then watching the girls as they walk out a little bit taller.” Above all Christine loves sharing the moments with girls and women when they accomplish their project because she can see their faces light up with pride.

Christine has personally benefited from the programs values throughout her time at GAW. “I’ve gained confidence to build other things and pursue other personal goals that I put on the back burner, such as doing art. Now I have secured a spot featuring my art at Oglethorpe Fine Arts & Crafts in collaboration with Artisans by the Bay in Meredith starting in May.” She is thankful for all the wonderful people she has met through the organization as well. You might meet this amazing volunteer when you take a Women’s Power Build class coming up this year.

For anyone who is interested in volunteering with GAW Christine offers her advice. “Stop thinking about it and just do it! You have nothing to lose and you will gain much more than you would have ever imagined by being apart of it.”

Thanks to our volunteers, Girls at Work, Inc.’s new Elm Street location blossoms just in time for first summer camp



Thanks to some dedicated volunteers from Timberland and the UNH Master Gardeners club, when our first set of summer builders arrive for our first camps in our new Elm Street shop, they’ll be welcomed by a lush garden landscape in the middle of downtown Manchester.

Every year for one day in May, Timberland shuts down to allow every employee of the Streatham-Based company to volunteer for a non-profit that benefits the community.

This year, 35 Timberland employees chose to work with our founder Elaine Hamel to build a maze of raised garden beds outside our shop.

The day before the installation of the raised beds, volunteers from the Master Gardeners tilled and prepared the area.

What had been a trampled city lawn was made ready to blossom — just like the transformation our builders undergo after working with power tools.

Girls At Work Inc provides after-school and summer camp opportunities for girls from low-income or other disadvantaged families to build wood furniture and other crafts with power tools, unlocking the power within themselves.

This year, our first in at a new shop at 4 Elm Street, the girls from our after school programs in Manchester will be able to attend a one-week summer camp at no cost.

The gardens will allow Girls At Work, Inc., to incorporate an additional layer to our summer camp curriculum: talking about gardening and healthy foods.

The eventual yield from the garden will be sent to the nearby Local Moose Cafe, whose staff will be part of the lessons about healthy food.

“It’s really important to have well rounded girls,” Hamel said. “Some of these kids, growing up in the city, they don’t know where vegetables come from.”

But, not every inch of every garden bed is given over to veggies. Hamel planted a few beautiful flowers, just because.

“When they arrive, I wanted to them to see the plants, the flowers, to feel good, to know this is a space that is all about them, and that it’s a beautiful space,” Hamel said. “From the time they walk into the parking lot, I want everything to say, ‘we care about you.’”

It costs $450 per girl to run our summer camps, but the effect on our girls is priceless. Some of the cost is offset by support from the local school district, but the rest comes from our supporters. Click here to make a gift to Girls at Work and send a girl to camp! Help our girls unlock the power within.

Professionals step out of their comfort zones

Group build

Many companies look for ways to get their staff out of the office setting for exercises that challenge them to discover who they are as individuals as well as team members. Our corporate build program does just that. We can take our equipment to a business of the business can come to us to build in our workshop.

The Corporate Build Program is designed to help professionals step out of their comfort zones and rely on each other to complete a build. The majority of our participants have never used power Group buildtools, let alone built anything, so we have participants discuss how they feel at the beginning of the program. Many say they have feelings of frustration, failure, uncertainty and inadequacy. It is important for all of our participants to connect with these feelings, because while it is a passing moment for them, for many of the girls we build with, it is all they know.

Our initial goal for Girls at Work, Inc. was simply to empower girls through building. This mission has grown into a “larger than life” mission as it deeply reaches through to girls who have known nothing but failure. They are so defined by that failure that it takes extreme measures to shatter that mindset for even just a moment.

We provide an enormous amount of information and demonstration to teach our girls how to safely use power tools. We then provide a sample project with very little direction for assembling all of the pieces that they have cut, sanded and pre-drilled. This enables them to think critically and dig deep to prove to themselves that they are both capable and powerful!

At the end of our corporate build we asked participants to connect with their feelings once again. Words shift to “powerful,” “skilled,” “awesome,” and “so capable.” We then asked them to think about how this shift in mindset can help a young girl to —some for the very first time — feel powerful and smart.

The picnic tables built in the program are often donated to an area non-profit. We also apply all the revenue generated from our Corporate Build Program to our non-profit partnerships, which enables us to empower many more girls.

So if you are looking for an awesome, outside-of-the-box experience for your staff, here are a few reasons to consider a corporate build:

  1. Learning how to safely use power tools is empowering;
  2. Working with coworkers in a very unfamiliar environment provides challenges that inspire trust;
  3. A spark to help get you fired up to tackle projects around the house;
  4. Donating to a non-profit is a win for everyone;
  5. You are investing in your staff and young girls at risk.
Girls at Work, Inc. logo
Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!